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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

Category: Spiritual Path

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Meena
United Kingdom

Question

Namaste

Hope all is well with at Ananda.

Why is sex discouraged before marriage? Due to current social norms regarding that it is mandatory to have sex with a boyfriend while in relationship(s) before marriage takes place. What does Master say about that? Should it be restricted? Or is it Ok? I read in a christian book that when Solomon came into sexual contact with the egyptian models, it’s as if the Gods those ladies worshipped came into contact with his energy and thus he fell.plz expand topic

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Meena,

I have been thinking about your question, and here are some thoughts about this very important and little understood part of our nature. I would first like to share with you a quote from the Finding Happiness book, by Swami Kriyananda, in response to the “current social norms” that you mentioned.

See yourself as a cause, not an effect. Accept from others only what you choose to accept: their good suggestions but not their insistence on them; their constructive criticisms but not their anger. Radiate into the world around you the light of faith and wisdom.

This statement assumes that people are looking to gain light and faith and wisdom in their lives. In the yogic tradition, the sexual energy itself, unless it is understood and used rightly, is considered one of the great obstacles to spiritual enlightenment.

This is because it is a very powerful energy that can be used either to uplift you spiritually or to draw you deeper into delusion. When this energy is expressed outwardly in sexual union, it draws the energy in the spine down, and into the lower chakras. If it is over-used, then it can gradually dissipate a person’s overall energy. This, naturally, depends on how frequently a person engages in sexual activity.

On the other hand, if we work to transmute and uplift the sexual energy, we find that it supports our spiritual development, filling us with great strength and joy. Yogananda refers to this process in the book The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda. In the chapter on Renunciation, he explains to a group of his monks,

If the sex drive were taken away from you, you would see that you had lost your greatest friend. You would lose all interest in life. Sex was given to make you strong. If a boxer were to fight only weaklings, he too would grow weak in time. It is by fighting strong men that he develops strength. The same is true in your struggle with the sex instinct. The more you master it, the more you will find yourself becoming a lion of happiness.

At Ananda we have found it helpful to work with the idea of balance in the process of "mastering" the sexual energy. Since most people are not looking to live a life of complete celibacy, it’s usually more helpful for them to work on gradually channeling the sexual energy upward using the techniques of yoga. If you want to grow spiritually, then you will want to know more about how to use this energy for your own highest happiness and fulfillment.

Suggested reading on this topic would be:

Both of these books may be purchased from Crystal Clarity Publishers.

Nandini
India

Question

How do i get rid of unwanted thoughts?

I am a close follower of Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings and feel particularly close to Him. I also believe strongly in God and that i shall be guided to the right things in life.

Yet, i do have a tendency to think of unnecessarily thoughts/people/situations which i know will not have any significant impact on my life. But those thoughts keep coming to me and leave the fear of them manifesting.

Please help me as to how i can tackle this issue.

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Nandini,

You have expressed a problem we all have. We are used to letting our minds run our lives. Please do watch the Sunday Service that was given by Nayaswami Devarshi this last weekend when it is online. He talked a great deal about concentration, determination and energy.

Of many things that you can try to stop these thoughts is immediately when they start coming to deflect them by turning your mind to very positive thoughts, to seeing the guru in your mind, to reading something uplifting, to repeating an affirmation. There are so many things that you can do to keep from thinking about these negative tendencies. The trick is to recognize that you are starting to have them and do something right away that will take you to a positive place. This all takes concentration and determination to succeed.

Another way is to surround yourself with spiritual reading, watching spiritual videos, conversing with spiritual people. Also to absorb and converse with the Ananda group near you. You can find one by looking at the anandaindia.org website and write to them. Get involved in this Sangha and serve with them. Serving others is a great way to keep your mind active in the right way.

Many blessings to you,

Seva

April Bryson
USA

Question

I really can’t resist asking this question because it’s so important to me. There is a post in this forum entitled "Broken promises, bad karma, and divine forgiveness" where N. Hriman says the Masters are none other than your own Higher Self. This makes me sad and disappointed! Are we fooling ourselves? Does our higher self "pose" as Master and the gurus, and even as God? Shouldn’t we then just always pray to our higher Self? Is Guruji really there for us? I feel deceived.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

April,

Your question is confusing, if somewhat heated! It is an axiom of Vedanta and metaphysics that there is no other reality but God, who has created this universe and us — not with sticks and stones but by "becoming" the cosmos (through vibration and duality) in the grand illusion called "maya."

In this precept, our ego has no essential reality. The masters act as instruments, stepping down the Infinite Power onto wavelengths, so to speak, that we can handle and relate to. As we are children of God and sparks of the Divine Flame of Life, so are the masters who come to guide us to Self-Realization. So, yes, the masters are none other than our own Self, and they, in turn, none other than the Self of All: God!

Master once consoled a devotee in regards to his future departure from earth, "To those who think me near, I am near." At another time he promised that for those who stay loyal and attuned to the end of life, he, or one of the masters, would be there to usher us into the astral world. Such is the divine promise, for the masters have been sent by God to lead souls to the eternal shores of His bliss.

Yes, you can pray to your "higher Self" if you feel to, but then how do you know this higher Self isn’t but your ego or subconscious? Far safer to pray to God in the form of one’s guru(s) until such time as the soul is awakened and we become identified with it as our true Self. Yet, even the soul is not absolutely "other" from God, though our uniqueness as a soul is eternal. A paradox that we cannot solve with the mind alone.

Ironically, at such time, the differences fade into insignificance, except in this respect: for us to achieve freedom, we, too must help others as the gurus have helped us! The goal of the guru is to awaken the inner guru. The essence of both, however, is divine. In God alone is freedom and we are One. A "mantra" I like goes like this: "There is no god but God. No good, but God; no-thing, but God."

Swami Kriyananda’s form of practicing the Presence was to mentally chant, "Aum Guru." Many a saint achieved freedom by mentally calling to his or her guru. Yogananda’s most advanced disciple, Rajarshi Janakananda, become so identified with his guru, that he could not longer distinguish his thoughts from his guru’s. Swami Kriyananda prayed that every thought and feeling he would have would be in tune with and an emanation from his guru’s consciousness.

Be not afraid and do not let the ego undermine your aspirations by refusing to accept and realize God’s presence in the guru(s). The ego is very, very clever. Only the heart knows.

Blessings,

Hriman

Karan Kaur
Australia

Question

Hi, I am a disciple of Paramhansa Yoganandaji. I am a Sikh by faith. Is it okay for me to continue chanting Sikh prayers along with our Guru’s meditation techniques? Or will this affect my attunement with our Guru? I note that in Autobiography of a Yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya states that everyone should practice their faith. I have even read somewhere Guruji saying that we should all meditate on a passage from our scriptures daily. I note that Guruji focused on Hindu and Christian scriptures only.

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Karan,

As Lahiri Mahasaya stated, one can continue in one’s own religion while practicing the Path of Kriya Yoga, which includes the techniques which he taught. If you feel that your faith is important to you, then certainly continue with it. If chanting Sikh prayers helps you in your spiritual growth, then again, continue to use them.

The point is not to be defined by any outward belief or religion. Our focus should be on returning to our true home, to the kingdom of God within. This is the emphasis that Paramhansa Yogananda brought to all of us.

Yogananda did encourage the daily reading of scriptures as a way to keep us in the flow of God’s presence. He also stated that his mission was to bring back into focus the original teachings of Jesus Christ and the original teachings of yoga as taught by Krishna and the great yoga masters.

It wasn’t so much an exclusion of other teachings such as Islam or Buddhism or the Sikh religion, but Yogananda felt that the essence of all religion, also known as "Sanaatan Dharma,” was clearly expressed in the teachings of Jesus Christ and Krishna. Yogananda’s emphasis with these teachings is one of universality; in other words, they could be applied by anyone, no matter what outward garb of religion one felt drawn toward.

Blessings on your spiritual journey,

Nayaswami Pranaba

Siddharth Patel
India

Question

I am a beginner in spiritual life. I know that God is all pervading so I find it difficult to worship any specific form of God. To which form of God should I worship? What did Yoganandaji suggest?

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Siddharth,

Congratulations on beginning your spiritual quest. Much joy awaits you.

The best form of God to worship is the form that you can best relate to, aspire to, and love — whatever awakens your heart’s love.

For that reason, Yoganandaji suggested that most people would do well to relate to God as Divine Mother: God within creation. Since we too are “in creation,” one could say that’s the closest aspect of God to us. In reality, of course, there is no closer or farther, for God is everything. But our human minds tend to see things that way. We also think of the human mother as ever-forgiving and unconditionally loving, whereas the human father is often seen as more distant, more likely to discipline and judge us. Those qualities can — in our own minds, only — carry over to our perspectives on God. So it’s easy to see how we might naturally feel more attracted to God as Divine Mother than as Heavenly Father.

Another option is to see the Guru as God. This is an excellent approach if you feel you have a guru, since the guru has, or has had, a physical form that you might relate to — and come to love — more easily. Guru is the aspect of Divine Mother that has direct responsibility for freeing your soul.

So it’s your choice. Just remember: God doesn’t want you to worship any particular form. God wants only your love. Worship — which is to say, offer your love to — the form that best awakens the natural love of your heart.

I hope this helps.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Siddharth Patel
India

Question

What is the meaning of surrender to God? How can I keep the attitude that God is the doer while working?

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Siddharth,

"Surrender" to God means many things but certainly starts with or includes openness to God’s presence in our lives. It includes being open to do (and think, and say) what is true, right, and just. It is another way of saying that we should be willing to do "God’s will" as it is shown to us by our common sense, moral and ethical guidelines, scripture, and the wisdom of the ages and sages.

The more we live seeking attunement to God’s presence (and this includes prayer and meditation, as well a right action), the more we God’s presence. The more we feel that divine energy within and all around the less we feel we are the doer and the more easily we experience that God is Doer in all things.

During daily activities develop the habit of mindfulness (of God). Silently chanting God’s name, a mantra, or prayerful thoughts as we go about our activities can help us feel God’s energy working through us. Practice seeing God as the Higher Self of each person you meet, whether likable or disagreeable, and seeing our rightful duties as God’s will for us.

Meditation should be the bedrock of our efforts to experience direct personal perception of God’s presence. From that daily effort in silent, inner communion, we can go about our daily activities with joy, willingness, and God’s power.

May the grace of God and the Masters guide and fill you with wisdom and joy,

Nayaswami Hriman

Karen
UK

Question

Hi, Yogananda says that all desires must be fulfilled. Is this also the case with lower desires you may have when you’re young or emotional but grow out of? Will you have to 'suffer' the consequences of having those desires even after you’ve developed and now want different things? Thank you

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Karen,

Swami Kriyananda once asked Paramhansa Yogananda that very question: “Do you mean that even a desire I had once for an ice cream cone when I was six years old will have to be somehow fulfilled?" “Oh yes,” Yoganandaji replied.

Every desire traps some of your energy in a whirlpool. That energy must be freed in order for you to become Self-realized. It can be freed either through fulfilling the desire outwardly (not the recommended—or even feasible—approach), or through spiritual practices. As Patanjali put it in his Yoga Sutras: “Yoga is the neutralization of the whirlpools of feeling. Then the Seer abides in Its essence.” In other words, once you have dissolved the energetic whirlpools of desires, like and dislikes, etc., you will live in soul consciousness.

Yes, it’s a project, but there’s good news: Yoganandaji said that every time you meditate, you neutralize some of those whirlpools. So keep at it, don’t worry about past desires, and know that good things are happening. You'll get there.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Jen
USA

Question

Hello,

What is the difference between obedience and cooperative obedience? These have never been very clear to me.

Thank you!

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Jen,

Swami Kriyananda tried very hard, for many years, to explain the subtle difference between the principles of obedience and cooperative obedience. The difference is subtle, but very important to understand, so thanks for asking!

He said: “Cooperative obedience means evoking intelligent, creative participation in whatever people are being asked to do, as opposed to that kind of obedience which asks people for their cooperation, but never allows them to ask questions.”

As an example, Swamiji often told a story about how, long ago, novices in a monastery were told to unquestioningly transplant small plants with the roots pointing upwards — a very foolish thing to do, because the plant simply can’t grow that way. This was done to test the novices' obedience leaving no room for questions or use of common sense.

Swamiji felt (rightly so!) that this sort of leadership would crush a person’s enthusiasm for a project and produce only non-creative robot-types, rather than joyful, intelligent people, working together for the good of all.

He also said: “A good leader will invite cooperation from others, rather than demanding their obedience. A leader can try to enforce obedience. But he or she will do so at the cost of losing people’s willingness and loyal support. Without these—indeed, without true enthusiasm on his or her part—a leader will never draw forth their best efforts.”

Finally he suggests: “Make harmony your priority. A rebellious spirit may win one some points now and then, but in the end, too much of it will destroy one’s peace of mind and inner attunement, and will, in addition, disturb others—all to no avail. Peace and harmony are the foundations of the spiritual life.”

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